For centuries fish has become a staple in many cultures diet. It is generally easy to find and prepare and as such, many cultures depend heavily on fish. However, more recent studies are showing just how harmful a fish in the diet can be. Below are four of the major reasons to avoid fish today.
1. PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyl)
What are the health risks associated with consuming PCB-Contaminated fish?
According to EPA (or the US Environmental Protection Agency), contaminated fish are a persistent source of PCBs in the human diet. PCBs are not highly toxic with a single dose (as in a single meal), but continued low levels of exposure (for example, eating contaminated fish over an extended period of time) may be harmful. The EPA rates PCBs as “probable human carcinogens,” since they cause cancer in laboratory animals. Other tests on laboratory animals show damage from PCBs to their circulatory, nervous, immune, endocrine and digestive systems.
Is Farmed fish better?
One study, which tested 700 salmon samples collected from around the world, found PCB concentrations in farmed raised salmon are, on average, eight times higher than in wild caught salmon. 1
2. HEAVY METAL TOXICITY: MERCURY
Nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. For most people, the risk from mercury by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern. Yet, some fish and shellfish contain higher levels of mercury that may harm an unborn baby or young child’s developing nervous system. The risks from mercury in fish and shellfish depend on the amount of fish and shellfish eaten and the levels of mercury in the fish and shellfish. 2
3. SATURATED FAT
While fish does contain Omega-3 fats, most of the fat in fish is not heart healthy. Between 15 and 30 percent of the fat in fish is actually saturated fat, which stimulates the liver to produce more cholesterol. High-fat foods are associated with poor heart health outcomes.
Fish contains varying levels of cholesterol. Here is a chart showing how much cholesterol can be found per can of fish. Canned Fish (2 oz serving). A 3 oz. serving of skinless roasted chicken contains between 70 mg and 80 mg of dietary cholesterol,
|Tuna Fish in Water||24|
|Tuna Fish in Oil||18|
|Sardines in Oil||81|
Popular Fish Fillets (1 fillet serving)
In recent years, fish oil has been hailed as a miracle cure for everything from heart disease to dementia. Many people supplement with fish oil to increase their intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for maintaining cellular function. Unfortunately, studies have shown that most of the health claims associated with fish oil may be unfounded.
A comprehensive Journal of the American Medical Association analysis involving 20 studies and more than 68,000 patients showed no link between fish oil and heart health. Similarly, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that patients who supplemented with fish oil did not reduce their risk of heart disease.
Additionally, recent reports indicate no association between fish oil supplementation and the prevention or improvement of dementia symptoms. Research has even shown that omega-3 supplements may increase diabetes and prostate cancer risk. Fortunately, many plant foods contain alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, which is the only essential omega-3 fatty acid. Excellent sources of ALA include walnuts, soybeans, leafy greens, flaxseed, avocado, and broccoli. 5
As you can see, while fish may be touted as having many benefits, it actually can do your body more harm than good. We recommend eliminating fish from the diet and instead opting for a fully plant-based diet that incorporates wholesome nuts, grains, fruits, and vegetables.